Your actor headshots, combined with your actor showreel, are the foundations of your actor profile. Actor headshots are a key marketing tool for your acting career, so it’s important to prepare yourself in order to get the most out of your session. If you are reading this it is because you have booked or you are thinking on booking a headshots session. In this article I’ll try to answer most of the common questions that we usually receive on wot to prepare for your actor headshots session.

Here are some things you might want to consider:

Clothing


What to bring?

For Actors, please bear in mind that you are using your clothes to create a character (the more different looks, the wider range for castings) so, don’t select your clothes just because you look good in them, rather think on which outfits will help you portraying those characters the best.

Please remember to bring a range of different outfits, How Many Should I bring, I would recommend 8 – 10, why not? isn’t it better we have the options? if we don’t use it it doesn’t matter!

A top with a vivid color also helps to make the headshot stand out from the rest, a good idea is to make this color match your eyes.

Black & White Tops

A white or black T-shirt is always a safe bet and I always recommend having at least one headshot in this simple outfit.

A Black top or 2 or 3… – It’s never wrong, always kinda works… is it the most exciting? no. Can it make you look like a college grad?, potentially, but bring interesting black tops, vests for people happy with their arms can look great, a shirt can look great, blouses etc….

Black tops with detail often work well because the detail is less noticeable than with colors, but it’s still there.

White? – Yeah why not, bring it it might work! especially if you have some color going on in your skin or hair.

if you are fair, with light skin.. it’s probably going to get a bit ghostly and wash you out.

In conclusion, make sure you bring at least one Black and one White T-shirt when you prepare your bag for actor headshots.

Dark or Jewel Colors

I personally prefer darker colors on most people unless you have a really rich skin tone or loads of dark hair. Other colors that look great on camera are mustard, dark greens, blues, maroon, burgundy. Be bold and surprise me!

Because these shots need to look good in color, the way the colors work together with you and your hair is important.

Dresses

Girls don’t forget you may have some nice dresses in your wardrobe where the top half and neck line are great. you can even wear them over your jeans, i won’t laugh or judge you.

Vests and Off-The-Shoulder

Yes, can look lovely, skin is a great way to bring color and a natural tone to the image, and necks and shoulders are a lovely feminine feature to show off..

Layer up with Jackets, Blazers and Coats

It’s also good to layer up clothes, denim jacket with T-shirt or leather jacket with T-Shirt always looks good. Blazers are good if you’re a little older and can play corporate or cop/business type roles, or smart mums. Coats are really good but avoid big furry collars or over sized collars.

Smart and simple is best… duffle coats and bombers look too casual.

Bra’s

There’s no point in bring a top if you cant hide your bra under it… do you need a strapless bra? if you wear a red bra on the day is it going to show through everything? if you want to use a thin strap dress or bra how will you hide the straps?

Accessories

We don’t generally need jewelry. You may want to do a ‘chav’ look in which case some hoops and bling might work. Again if you’re in a slightly maturer or elegant woman category some earnings and a necklace may work nicely.

Guys

Don’t go too tight around the neck with t shirts, they can choke you a bit.

Don’t bring stuff that has been washed to death and faded, get some open neck lines, shirts or tops with button detail around the neck, good fitting jumpers with some texture look good, a blazer can look smart and sophisticated, think about layers, shirt under a jumper? t-shirt under a blazer?

Polo shirts are a nice compromise between basic t-shirt and less formal than a shirt.

What Doesn’t Work?

If you’re Caucasian then similar colored tops don’t normally work, you need something to separate from your skin color otherwise it all blends into one.

Bright neon colors can be a bit too strong unless you know you’re look and personality is really bubbly and big to match them.

Big logos or busy patterns don’t work. T-shirts with text on it are also very distracting. Casting Director will be spending more time reading your t-shirt rather than looking at you. We don’t want that.

Hair


Let’s talk about hair, and this is really important:

Do not get your hair cut or colored the day before or worse the morning of the shoot.

Why risk it? it could go horrible wrong. Give it some breathing time so you know you’re really happy with it and you can control it.

Also don’t come for headshots if you’re planning on cutting in a fringe a week later.. pointless!

Everyone’s hair is obviously so different, but.. 9 times out of 10 – Girls if you have a long hair style – I LIKE (relatively) big hair, there i’ve said it.

now i’m not talking comedy Wedding Singer 80’s hair, but some volume is essential. Also your parting, lots of girls come with neat center partings, but by the end of the shoot we’ve experimented and they prefer an off center as it creates a bit more interest with the asymmetrical shape, not for everyone but just what I’ve noticed someone said something very funny the other day, “it’s about hair to face ratio” and i know what she means.. more volume in the hair can make the face feel a little more in proportion, and even slimmer sometimes.

Layers

Layers can be tricky, if you stand in the mirror, tilt your chin down 10 degrees, and your hair falls in your face, it will probably do that for the whole shoot. So do you need to use some hairspray to keep it back open up the face a bit? does it look good with sections gripped back?

Hair Up

Also have a think before hand what ‘hair up’ works best, if any? very high pony tails and high buns often get lost off the top of the photo as we crop the top off a little bit. Does it look nice a bit lower? or even anything to the side or platted? just thinking out loud.

When To Wash?

This sometimes takes military precision! wash it first thing that morning and it can be too soft and not hold any shape or style, leave it too long and we don’t want greasy dirty hair either.. only you know your hair.. but too clean can be a problem.

Guys + Shaving

You can shave during a session, but wet shaving doesn’t always work out. You can cut yourself, the skin can look a bit raw and aggravated and for guys we normally want to make the jaw look nice and strong, so baby face clean leaves no detail to hold some shadow. Of course, if you’re always clean shaven, don’t grow a beard for the shoot!

Make Up


Prepare your Make Up before coming for actor headshots. We have a make up table to do some touch-ups as you go.

Come with the same amount on as you would wear to a normal audition for you. If you’re a dancer maybe a little less as full dance make-up will probably be too heavy.

Most people like to start very neutral, just covering up blemishes, and a little around the eyes.

If you have a basic Headshot (Adamantium) session it needs to be done before hand, you won’t have time to do it in the room as that will probably be 15mins of your session gone already.

Feel free to add more as you go and develop your look.

Fake Tan

Generally, no. If it’s super subtle and you know what you’re doing fine. If you neck is a different color to your face, it will look stupid.

Fake Lashes

Normally a bit too much, if you wear them all the time then we need the photos to look like you so fine, but it’s probably a bit over the top for most people.

Lipstick

A tinted gloss is normally a good way to start, it gives a little shine and color whilst being subtle. A nude color works nicely. You might want to do one look with a color on your lips if a more dramatic and sassy look is useful for your bracket. I can’t think of ever getting a good shot with dark purples or browns.

Rest & Recovery

Preparing your skin and lips before the shoot as much as you can is also advised. Sleep, lots of water, no late nights, cut out fatty foods and chocolate if you can.

Spare a thought for your lips as well, dry cracked lips can be quite noticeable, lots of vaseline and lip salve to moisturize them leading up to the shoot might help.

Guys

When booking your headshot session. I rarely think you need any make-up. If it’s a spot we can clean it up easier in the retouching stage. Under-eyes maybe a little will help if they’re bad. Don’t do anything unless you’re really confident with what you’re doing.


I hope you found this article helpful to prepare for your actor headshots. These are the different packages we offer at our studio. If you are interested in booking a session with us please follow this link.

Do you have any other tips that help you prepare for headshots or portraits ? please share with us using the comments section below.